Veteran campaigner Crafty Shaw reached the front on the final turn and refused to yield to pressure from Apt to Be to record his 15th career win in Saturday's $100,000 Hanshin Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park.
Crafty Shaw, a determined 6-year-old Crafty Prospector
horse ridden by Craig Perret, pulled away to win by 1 1/4 length over Apt to Be, the defending Hanshin Cup champion. Kodema, who ranged into contention at the top of the stretch, was unable to continue his challenge and settled for third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner. The final time for the mile on fast going was 1:35 1/5.
"We've got a pretty rapport," Perret noted. "I know him real well and I don't overdo it with him. He likes it that way. I just let him do his own job. I hit him once and then I switched and shook (the whip) at him left handed to let him know his job wasn't over. When he started kicking it in more, I knew I could leave him alone. He was already focused."
Crafty Shaw stands on the verge of $1 million in career earnings. After earning $60,000 for the win, his bankroll stands at $984,440 for owner Charles J. Cella with a record of 15-6-6 in 39 lifetime outings
Perret placed the Peter Vestal-trained Crafty Shaw just off the pace established by Wiggins, who clicked off fractions of :23 4/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 1/5. After taking control in the lane, Apt to Be, Kodema and Coach Jimi Lee all mounted bids, but none were able to catch Crafty Shaw.
"I had a perfect trip," said Marquez Jr., who was riding Apt to Be for the first time in the Hanshin. "I couldn't have asked for a better one. I sat right outside the leaders and turning for home I hoped I had a little more horse but every time I ran at the leader he re-broke and I just couldn't catch him. My horse gave his all. He only had one start so far this year so he might have been a little short."
Coach Jimi Lee, the narrow second choice of the bettors, settled for fourth, followed by Attack the Books, Wiggins and Fighting Indians.
Crafty Shaw ended a three-race losing streak, all in grade III races, which inlcuded back-to-back runner-up showings at Oaklawn Park in the Razorback March 14 and the 5th Season April 7.
He paid $5.60, $3.60 and $2.80 as the slight favorite in the field of seven. Apt to Be, ridden by Carlos Marquez, returned $5 and $4. Kodema was $3.80 to show. The exacta was worth $22.40.